*This paper was written Dec 14, 2009; the post date is wrong, but serves to keep the footnoted version (which has format issues on blogger) off the front-page where the non-footnoted version is, but available to those who wish to examine the footnotes.
Behind the Doctrine of Good Intentions: Why the
“It is the responsibility of intellectuals to speak the truth and to expose lies.” Noam Chomksy, 1969[i]
“The noble lie will inform them that they are better than those they serve and it is, therefore, their responsibility to guard and protect those lesser than themselves.” Plato’s Republic[ii]
The War in
This startling power-grab would not have been possible if not for the near-monolithic tendency of Western media outlets and scholars to ignore the obvious geopolitical and material reasons for the invasion – as well as its illegality – and instead propagate the distortions of the state's carefully orchestrated propaganda campaign.[iv] As a result, the war becomes noteworthy not only for what it says about US foreign policy, but also about the dissemination of ignorance by America's key providers of information and analysis. In fact, the criminal Iraq War of 2003 was enabled, in no small part, by the moral bankruptcy and shallow analysis of Western intellectuals, who thus own partial responsibility for the shameless slaughter of millions of Iraqis and the destruction of an entire country.
The inherent flaw of mainstream scholarship on the 2003 US invasion of Iraq is that it almost always starts with the assumption that the goals of the war were to “create a new middle east” that would “bring democracy to Iraq,” and take weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of a brutal tyrant and improve US interests in the region. The success of the war, thus, is measured by how successful the
Below, I aim to assess the true aims of the
II: The Democracy Promotion and National Security Lies
“We must remember that in time of war what is said on the enemy’s side of the front is always propaganda, and what is said on our side of the front is truth and righteousness, the cause of humanity and a crusade for peace.” Walter Lippman [vi]
Before we dissect the aims of the war, it is useful to examine the way contemporary writings on the war adhere to a set of assumptions that serve to narrow debate in a way that enables the state to commit such aggressive acts of state terrorism with as little domestic resistance as possible. There were two major falsehoods used to sell the War in
As these justifications crumbled, state planners redoubled the emphasis on “democracy promotion.” The goal, in the words of President Bush, was to create a "global democratic revolution,” in the
Chandrasekaran’s book is especially telling of the level of indoctrination of Western commentators as he brazenly accepts the democracy promotion justification claim while at the same time acknowledging it was actually a secondary justification for the war. The Bush Administration, as noted above, originally focused on preventing Hussein from using an alleged stockpile of weapons of mass destruction against the
The intellectual community could have viewed the WMD debacle as a red flag, leading them to question the word of US policy makers. This red flag could have been magnified when a British intelligence memo, “The Downing Street Memo,” would reveal that “intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy,” under the orders of the President.[xix] [xx]
III: The Forgotten Documentary Record and US interests in
Even without the WMD blunder, the true aims of
Before outlining the evidence to support the above, it is important to note that these proposed reasons for the
Larry Diamond in Foreign Affairs, was similarly dismissive of the idea that
Had Diamond followed his own advice to consult the Iraqis, he may have learned that they had no illusions about US aims in the region. In late 2003, when a
IV: Oil, Geopolitics and the Invasion
The diplomatic record of the
Vice President Dick Cheney understood the importance of
Unsurprisingly, in a move that went virtually ignored by US scholars and journalists, in 2003 the
V: Democracy Suppression and Industrial Theft in Post-Invasion
While there is no doubt energy resources served as a major reason for the invasion, this does not necessarily refute the idea that the
The very idea that a democratic
Predictably, Iraqi leaders grew frustrated by the
“Nothing really changed for the Iraqi's," Rosen said. “Bush tried to sell the elections as an example of
Of course, prior to the elections
The United States, however, known domestically for its lack of government-run social services, such as healthcare, quickly worked to eliminate these very un-American policies into the Iraqi Constitution and the final draft actually incorporated a provision that made the state “guarantee the reform of the Iraqi economy in accordance with modern economic principles to insure the full investment of its resources, diversification of its sources and the encouragement and development of the private sector.”[lii] The
True to its undemocratic infatuation with the “free market,” the
The US also worked to hard to squash Iraqi nationalism, choosing to divide Iraqis into sects – Sunni and Shia. While Iraq has long been home to a variety of religious and cultural philosophies, it was not until the US arrived that its nationalistic ways were divided, artificially by US planners. Notes Rosen:
This obsession with sects informed the U.S. approach to Iraq from day one of the occupation, but it was not how Iraqis saw themselves -- at least, not until very recently. Iraqis were not primarily Sunnis or Shiites; they were Iraqis first, and their sectarian identities did not become politicized until the Americans occupied their country, treating Sunnis as the bad guys and Shiites as the good guys.
There were no blocs of ‘Sunni Iraqis’ or ‘Shiite Iraqis’ before the war, just like there was no ‘Sunni Triangle’ or ‘Shiite South’ until the Americans imposed ethnic and sectarian identities onto Iraq's regions.[lxi]
In sum, the notion that US was hoping to spread a truly viable democracy for the benefit of Iraqis conflicts dramatically with the actual evidence. Diamond and other scholars may be wise to consult US documents that outline its foreign policy. These documents illustrate clearly the goals of the
VI: The ‘New American Century’ and the end of International Law
In addition to the tangible benefits of securing energy resources and opening up the Iraqi economy for investment, the war also served as the attempted coming out party of a new era of American foreign policy. Since the early 1990s, a group of neoconservatives had been crafting an idealistic – at the time, many thought fantastical – plan for a “New American Century.”[lxiv] Originally outlined in a memo written by Paul Wolfowitz (who would serve as deputy secretary of defense under George W Bush) the “primary objective of U.S. post-Cold War political and military strategy should be preventing the emergence of a rival superpower” and creating a “world order is ultimately backed by the U.S.”[lxv] This could be accomplished by ramping up military spending aggressively, disengaging from international institutions and using unilateral action. Originally these plans, scoffed at by realists, were envisioned as decades or more away, barring what “the Wolfowitz Doctrine,” called, “a new Pearl Harbor,” or a catastrophe that could dramatically change the scope of
The War in Iraq was seen as the first major test of the freedom agenda. Among the basic tenets of neoconservatism was the general lack of respect for international law and institutions. In this way the War in
The illegality of the invasion is another aspect of the war in
Despite these ruminations, the laws do seem to be quite clear. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called the war “illegal”– a rare step for a UN leader – admitting that it was in clear violation of various laws against the use of force, including charters 2, 4 and 51 of the United Nations.[lxxiii] At the
VII: the Way forward for Iraq and US Foreign Policy
Since the real reasons for the War in Iraq contrast mightily with conventional wisdom, it is unsurprising the assessment of its success or failure does so as well. Generally, the war is viewed as a “strategic” mistake. The security situation has hampered the legitimacy of the client government, and greatly hampered the ability of the nation to be opened up for reconstruction and investment. The war has also empowered neighboring
But no matter what the war meant for the “national interest,” the war remains a terrible tragedy. The horror of the massive slaughter of the Iraqi people is self-evident as is the destruction of Iraqi libraries and museums, which has ruined the history of one of the great civilizations of the world. “There is only ignominy left for Americans and slaughter for the Iraqis.
Apologists for US war crimes and so-called realist scholars may argue that the death of a country and more than a million of its people was worth it to expand American hegemony and to secure control of the oil. They are, at least, more honest than the journalists and scholars who advance the fictitious narrative that the
The best way forward is two-fold. One, the United States must, in line with the will of both the Iraqi people, and the American people, promptly withdraw all forces from the United States, and cease operations of military bases.[lxxix] As a matter of duty, the United States should then pay reparations for is role in destroying the nation. Such policies would save the US massive amounts of money and hopefully lessen violence in Iraq, given that US intelligence estimates say the presence of US troops fuels violence.[lxxx] Further, the United States needs to reconsider the nature of US militarism and ponder the needless suffering we inflict on innocent human beings when we wage aggressive wars. For this to be possible the
 It is pity that so many of the Iraqi and US dead were not around to take solace in this belated apology; not that it would have mattered much. The Times endorsed an escalation of US troops soon thereafter (editorial, “Grim Realities in Iraq” Dec. 22 2004.) and did not advocate for an end to the war until more than three years after they issued the mea culpa (editorial, “The Road Home,” July 8, 2007).
[i] Noam Chomsky. “The Responsibility of Intellectuals” The
[ii] Plato. “The Republic.” 380 b.c. Available at: http://www.filepedia.org/the-republic
[iii]For civilian death toll see, By Gilbert Burnham, Shannon Doocy, Elizabeth Dzeng, Riyadh Lafta, and Les Roberts; This study, available at: http://web.mit.edu/CIS/pdf/Human_Cost_of_War.pdf, estimated more than 600,000 civilian deaths as of 2006; a more conservative estimate can be found at, www.iraqbodycount.com, which only measures deaths reported by at least two media outlet. As of Nov. 16 the number was around 100,000. For estimated cost of the war, see Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda E Bilmes, “The $3 Trillion Dollar War,” Vanity Fair. April 2008. Available at: http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/stiglitz200804
[iv]For information about campaign see memo from National Security Archives, “
[v] For a history of propaganda over the last 500 years see: Nocholas, John Cull, David Culbert, and David Welch, eds. Propaganda and Mass Persuasion: A Historical Encyclopedia, 1500 to the Present (2003).
[vi] For Lippman quote, see: http://www.globalissues.org/article/157/war-propaganda-and-the-media ; retrieved on November 17, 2009.
[vii], Dan. “No evidence Linking
[ix] For text of Bush’s speech, see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A8260-2003Nov6?language=printer ; retrieved on November 17, 2009.
[x] Nicolas Kristof, “
[xi] Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainer, “Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of
[xii] Phrase borrowed from Noam Chomsky’s essay, “9-11 and the Doctrine of Good Intentions,” found in his book, “Interventions,” (2007; City Lights Open Media) pg 134.
[xiii][xiii] Rajiv Chandrasekaran, “Imperial Life in the
[xiv] For Bush’s “Smoking Gun” comment, see text of Oct. 2002 speech: http://archives.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/10/07/bush.transcript/
[xv] For text of 2003 State of the Union, see: http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/01/28/sotu.transcript/; for retraction see: Peter Eisner, “How Bogus Letter Became a Case for War,” The
[xvi] For study on
[xvii] For apology see: “The Times and
[xviii] Chandrasekaran, “Imperial Life” pg 179-180
[xix] See, “The
[xx] For more on the orchestrated government propaganda campaign, see: Altheide, David. and Grimes, Jennifer. "The Propaganda Project and the
[xxi] Chandrasekaran, “Imperial Life” pg 141
[xxii] Larry Diamond “Was Iraq a Fool’s Errand,” Foreign Affairs. November/December 2005. Available at: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/60276/tony-smith-and-larry-diamond/was-iraq-a-fools-errand?page=2
[xxiii] Walter Pincus, “Skepticism about US, Deep, Iraq Poll Shows: Motives for Invasion of Motives is Focus of Doubt.” The
[xxiv] Douglas Litte, “American Orientalism: The
[xxv] The United States Department of State Foreign Relations of the
[xxvi] Little, American Oreintalism. Pg 56-58
[xxvii] Ibid pg 53
[xxviii] Quoted in Schaller, Michael. Altered States: The United States and Japan Since the Occupation. Oxford University Press. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/schaller-states.html.
[xxix] Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Hegemonic Quicksand” The National Interest, Winter. 2003-04.
[xxx] Little, American Oreintalism, pg 308.
[xxxi] Ibid 312-313
[xxxii] Charles Tripp, “A History of Iraq,” (2007; Cambridge University Press) pg 268
[xxxiii] Ibid pg 268-69
[xxxiv] Achbar, Perilous Power, pg 93.
[xxxv] Paul Wolfowtiz, “Determination and Findings” Department of Defense. December 5, 2003. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/documents/iraqcontracts_dod20031205.pdf . He wrote: “'It is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States to limit competition for the prime contracts of these procurements to companies from the United States, Iraq, Coalition partners and force contributing nations.”
[xxxvi] Achbar, “Perilous Power.” Pg 85
[xxxvii] Michel Schaller, “Altered States: The
[xxxviii] see Savage, Charlie “Bush Declares Exceptions to Sections of Two Bills He Signed Into Law,” New York Times. 14 October 2008. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/15/washington/15signing.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper&oref=slogin ; or “President Bush Signs H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 into Law.” White House, Office of the Press Secretary, January 28, 2008. Available at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/01/print/20080128-10.html
[xxxix] Lester, Will. “Poll finds residents' pessimism growing,” Associated Press. March 20, 2007. Available at: http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/2007/03/20/poll_finds_residents_pessimism_growing/
[xli] Nir Rosen. “The Triumph of Martys: A Reporter’s Journey into Occupied
[xlii] Ibid pg 18
[xliii] Ibid pg 27
[xliv] Ibid. pg 192. Rosen writes: “Americans were forced to hand over sovereignty early due to pressure” from Iraqis. In Perilous Power, Chomsky wrote that Paul Bremer “delayed the elections as long as possible, under various false pretexts.”pg 96
[xlv] Rosen, “Triumph of Martyrs,” pg 202. Rosen quotes an Iraqi named Ibrahim
[xlvi] Ibid pg 202; Rosen notes the commission had lost papers, were not knowledgeable of the candidates and lost many staffers to resignations.
[xlvii] Ibid pg 207; Rosen quotes Ayatolla Ali al-istani.
[xlviii] Ibid pg 209; Rosen quotes an Iraqi named Khattab.
[xlix] Congressional Research Services reports on the CPA; available at http://stuff.mit.edu/afs/sipb/contrib/wikileaks-crs/wikileaks-crs-reports/RL32370.pdf
[l] Tripp pg 290
[li] Brown, Nathan, “Constitution of Iraq: Draft Bill of Rights,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 27, 2005.
[liii] Georgy, Michael, “Iraq Parliament May Back Charter, Sunnis Opposed,” Reuters, August 28, 2005
[liv] Finer, Jonathan, and Omar Fekeiki, “US Steps Up Role in Iraq Charter Talks,” Washington Post, August 13, 2005
[lv] Naomi Klein, “The Shock Doctrine: the Rise of Disaster Capitalism.” (Picador,
[lvi] Ibid pg 436
[lvii] Ibid pg 353
[lviii] Tripp, A History of
[lix] Tripp, A History of
[lx] Ibid pg 290.
[lxi] Rosen, Nir. “What Bremer Got Wrong in Iraq,” The Washington Post. May 16, 2007. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/05/15/AR2007051501322_pf.html
[lxv] “Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategies, Forces, and Resources for a New Century,” The Project for a New American Century. September 2000.
[lxvii] Transcript of speech, given June 1, 2002, is available at: http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2002/06/print/20020601-3.html ; accessed on December 10, 2009.
[lxviii] John E. Ikenberry, “
[lxix] Phillipe Sands, Lawless World:
[lxx] Ibid pg 175
[lxxi] Ibid pg 175
[lxxii] Faisal Abbas. “Arab and American Media Bias: The Truth Behind The Myth.” asharq alawsat. May 23, 2005. Available at: http://www.asharq-e.com/news.asp?section=5&id=9052
[lxxiii] Sands, Lawless World. pg 175
[lxxiv]Bruce Broomhall, International justice and the International Criminal Court (Oxford University Press; 2004). pg. 46; Available at: http://books.google.com/books?id=-Ni6Qy2E9KwC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_v2_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q=&f=false
[lxxv] Transcript of pact available at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at University of Virginia, available at: http://millercenter.org/scripps/archive/speeches/detail/3813 ; Retrieved on November 28, 2009.
[lxxvi] For examples of this type of critique, see Bob Woodward, State of
[lxxviii] Rosen, Nir. “The Death of
[lxxx] A September 2007 National Intelligence Estimate said the war is a “cause célèbre” for terrorists. See, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,215920,00.html